We all saw the pictures during this unusual offseason of players on teams across the country gathering in mostly unusual places to practice football. It was unclear at that time how those practices would affect teams once football was back. Falcons linebacker Coy Wire feels the situation helped bring a tight-knit squad even closer — turning lemons into lemonade, so to speak.
The time away from the facility meant they weren't under the watchful eye of Director of Athletic Performance Jeff Fish and his staff, but they're working hard to remedy that quickly now that camp has begun.
"We're not where we need to be physically," Wire said Saturday morning. "Although we've tried to do our best, it's not the same as being with Fish and his team. Coach Smith has done a great job of taking the extra time throughout our day to get us in there with Fish."
Buried beneath all the noise during the offseason was a group of guys who took advantage of the time to work on their craft, but also to come together in new ways. Without the structure of offseason activities, players were free to do as they wished. Instead of devoting more time to late-night video games, the Falcons put in some quality time as a team.
"We were able to do things that we weren't normally able to do," Wire said. "There was a lot of time spent together off the field because we were already away from the facilities. We went out to eat more and played basketball and build that camaraderie that you sometimes don't get when you're at the facilities and everyone's going their separate ways. It was an opportunity for us to jell together and become more cohesive as a team."
They could have been anywhere in the world, but instead they were in North Atlanta making sure they wouldn't miss a beat when camps opened.
When no one was watching, the Falcons were still doing the right things.
"Being there without the coaches showed the true leadership of the team," safety William Moore said. "It helped us bond and showed the character of the guys — when they had to come out they came out. Small things like that will pay big differences in the season."